I'm sensing an evil trend, my friends. It seems like I'm going longer and longer between rants. Your repeated kudos, which I emphatically enjoy, have given me stage fright. I am starting to have to work to write these babies! Being a capitalist, I can't rest on my laurels, so here's the latest edition of my rant.
As I've said in the past, "rugby" in most circles is considered a dirty word. Maybe this is why Madison Avenue uses rugby's likeness and images in many popular ad campaigns. I actually just saw one for chewing tobacco. An advertiser once told me that, in order for a person to remember your product, service, company, etc. the consumer has to make a visual, synaptic connection with a piece of your advertising, at least nine times before he can commit it to memory or easily recognize it. So, of any of you that have read my prose before, you know that any rugby is good rugby, in my book. The more people in the US that utter the word rugby, the better it is for our cause.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the (sort of) pleasure of taking part in the second annual Dallas Touch Rugby Tournament. You may be thinking, "Touch rugby? Sure, I know touch rugby. Our team plays it sometimes before practice, and in the summer." Hold your horses, my friends. You don't know jack about touch rugby. The team I play for (Arlington Mavericks) threw together a side to enter into the tournament. When we first heard about it, we thought, "Hey, we could do pretty well at this. We play touch almost as much as we play 15s!" Unfortunately, the differences between touch and fifteens are like those between Spanish and Portuguese. There are similarities and you're able to communicate, but it's not easy. Touch rugby, believe it or not, has very strict and organized rules. I, basically, compare it to a touch version of Rugby League. It's really not a game designed for fast fluid ball movement. Generally, you don't even spread the ball around too much until your fourth or fifth touch (you're allowed six before you turn the ball over).
Organized, or not, we really don't talk about touch rugby here in the US. For most US teams, touch is simply a diversion. We just go out to practice and do it to break up the monotony of fifteens practice. The way my team plays, it actually hinders the development of young players. I'm sure the same can be said for most teams. I will say this for organized touch rugby: like any other sport, it truly requires you to practice techniques, be disciplined and keep your guard up. Do I ever see the Arlington Mavericks becoming touch champions of the world? Not even close. As a matter of fact, some of my teammates comments about touch rugby are unsuitable for printing in this publication - even though everyone reading this is a rugby player. There are two things that I would like to see happen with organized touch rugby. First, I would like to see players, whose Rugby Union or League careers might be over stay involved in rugby by playing touch. Second, I would like to see teams who play the guerilla version of touch, organize it a little bit and have someone who enforces the rules, etc. No matter what version of touch you play, it's a fun sport that gives a good workout. There's no reason to allow skills to erode or to run rookie players off because they get frustrated by the unorganized, guerilla touch played by most teams.
From the same mold of Touch Rugby, Rugby League is slowly trying to grow some roots in the US. I, honestly, haven't heard a whole lot about Rugby League and its growth in the US, but I did come across a website of a small league in the NE United States. Visit their site at http://www.amnrl.com. I checked with a friend from that area, who is actually on the roster for one of the teams. He told me, basically, that he's been on the roster for a while, but has never even played a game. Apparently, though the league is trying very hard to get started, it hasn't actually achieved very much yet. As you can guess, I applaud their efforts. They have a great looking website, decent business plan, and of course, the sport of rugby as a foundation.
I wrote last year about the decline of Rugby tournaments in the US. Of late, that very topic has become a very popular discussion amongst rugby players. Going to as many tournaments as I do each year (about 30), I get to see how tournaments are run, the good as well as the not-so-good. I am a very large proponent of having a niche for your rugby tournament. What's going to bring teams to your tournament? Cheap beer and hung-over rugby aren't the greatest drawing cards these days. Let's face it, the baby boomer rugby players are heading out for family trips to the beach in lieu of playing summer sevens. To that end, another version of rugby has reared its head: Sevens in the Sand - something I know little about, but I heard of a couple of tournaments last year and this summer I already know of one hosted by Corpus Christi (TX) RFC called Sevens By The Sea (more info. to follow).
There are so many schools of rugby nowadays - I even wrote a few articles about indoor rugby last year. There's also wheelchair rugby. To me, it doesn't matter what form you choose to play, as long as you play. Of course, being a marketer of rugby goods, all of those offshoots require some level of gear. In a country of approximately 275 million, we need more rugby players. Look at it this way, two people are having a conversation. One guy says, "I play touch rugby," or "rugby league," or "rugby union." It doesn't matter, the other person only heard "rugby." If they hear that word often enough, they're going to be curious and check it out - that's human nature.
Hooker Rugby Supply